On a warm, sunny day, it doesn’t get much better than brushing up against a lavender plant and inhaling the intoxicating aroma. You can experience this just about anywhere in your landscape. From pathways to rock gardens, lavender makes a wonderful focal point, and it is useful as well.
Lavender plants are built-in aromatherapy. Not only do they add a wonderful fragrance to your garden, but the lavender flowers can also be brought indoors for herbal teas, homemade crafts, and sachets for your drawers. It’s hard to think of another plant that can add this much beauty and joy to our lives.
Simple Lavender Syrup
Simple lavender syrup is an easy and delightful infusion that enhances just about any drink. Pour some in lemonades and teas. Add a shot to your next margarita or cosmopolitan. (Most recipes call for one ounce or one shot of lavender syrup per eight ounces of beverage. Adjust the amount you use according to taste.) It will transform your beverage from average to exceptional.
This recipe is borrowed from Sharon Shipley’s The Lavender Cookbook.
Makes 2 cups
- 1 cup distilled or filtered water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole culinary lavender buds
- 1 strip lemon zest
Boil the water in a small saucepan and add the sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Add the culinary lavender buds and the lemon zest and allow the mixture to steep, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-screened colander or cheesecloth. Lavender syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Herbal Vinegar with Lavender
Herbal vinegars are a fun and useful way to enjoy the bounty of your garden harvest throughout the year. Vinegars are not just for salads. They are also a healthy alternative for adding flavor to dishes as they contain no salt, preservatives, or significant calories. Drizzle them on fruit or use them to baste meats on the grill.
1. Harvest herbs at the peak of freshness by cutting them before they flower, preferably in the morning. Rinse the herbs thoroughly and allow them to dry completely.
2. Place the herbs in wide-mouth jars such as mason jars and pour in vinegar to cover all the vegetation completely. Some items may want to float to the top; if so, use a wooden skewer to keep them in place. Seal the jars tightly, placing waxed paper or plastic wrap between the lid and the jar to prevent rusting.
3. Allow the jars to sit for a period of time in a cool, dark place from 1 week to a few months to infuse the vinegar. The longer it sits, the more potent your vinegar will be, so don’t let it sit more than about 6 months.
4. Strain the herbs from the vinegar using cheesecloth, muslin, or a paper coffee filter. Funnel the infused vinegar into containers. You can add fresh herbs to the new containers for decoration. Cap tightly and store in a cool, dark area. Herbal vinegars will last 6 to 8 months.
from The Lavender Lover’s Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader, published by Timber Press. Photographs by Janet Loughrey. Used with permission.